Friday, June 17, 2005

Non = Nonstop

It starts raining on our drive up the hills and we close up the windows of the trucks

Suddenly it feels like we're in the belly of a boat being tossed around on the ocean.

I feel sick
Please don't let this be how it goes down.
I am stronger than this
I will not be that girl

I push the buttoned down flaps off the truck and stick my head out into the rain for some much needed fresh air.

Suddenly the horn from the driver and I have to duck my head back in to avoid colliding with a herd of water buffalo.

Where the hell am I?

We pull over.
The rain has stopped.

Pack all of our stuff in plastic bags
Spray insect repellent everywhere and start walking

Down a path at first and before I'm even conscious of it we're hiking through the jungle.

Today is our "easy" day- 2 hour trek.

We're near the back of the line- Non leads the troop and Yao mans the back

Non stops occasionally to point out certain things in the jungle- but by the time the information trickles down the line the message is a bit jumbled - "What? It's magnetic and we're supposed to eat it?" A dangerous little game of telephone

We vow to somehow overtake those in front of us to get closer to the source of valuable information, but for now we're happy to walk with Yao at the end of the line. He makes a Robin Hoodesque hat for Jeff out of huge leaves and twigs and entertains us by making up his own words to popular songs.

"I shot the tourists...but I did not shoot the tour guide."

An hour into the trek and I turn around and say to Jeff, "Who would have guessed it? I love to hike!"

It reminds me of something Krissy said about chopping vegetables-

You have to concentrate so hard on the task at hand that your mind can't wander anywhere else- it has to stay completely focused.

That may sound boring, but it's incredible.

My mind is too busy working out where to place my foot next (so I don't fall on my ass) nothing else has the opportunity to get in. I hear my breathing, what's going on around me, see what the drop off the side of the steep hill looks like- but there's little room for anything else.

After almost 24 years of being lambasted with crap from all angles, struggling to find a quiet moment for my own mind- one where I can remain completely in the present without any interruptions- It was the most freedom I've felt in a very long time.

Not just freedom from everything around me, but freedom from myself, from the over-analyzation...

What did that look mean?
Why'd he use that word?
Why are they doing it like that, should I being doing it like that? Am I doing it wrong because I'm not doing it like that?

No time to second-guess myself

For a few short hours I have to depend completely on my own judgment and body- No time to look around and see how everyone else was getting over that huge tree that had fallen across the path.

I need to drown out everything else- including my own powerful and pervasive sense of self-doubt to realize I am strong and capable of most anything (I rip my pants on that tree as I hurl myself over it! Nobody's perfect)

After a final leech check (Yeah that's right, leeches!) upon emerging from the jungle we head down a long red clay path to our first hilltribe village where we'll be spending the night.

On the way Yao shows us how to break branches off this certain kind of plant and use it to blow bubbles...shocked and amazed!

I don't know quite what to say about the villages.
I don't want to use the word primitive, because I could never build a shelter like the ones that they have- the skills of survival are amazing- they make their homes from nothing- they create it all and I will never call that 3rd world or backward.

Grow your own food, raise your own animals - and be willing to share it with outsiders. I am grateful and blessed.

We have a large hut for the entire group- This one with an elevated bamboo flooring and mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling- our own huge table to accommodate the big group and our own bathroom and shower hut as Yao describes it.

Katie peaks her head in to check out the shower- we're all pretty dirty from the trek- and starts to laugh.

"It's a bucket of water."

Home sweet home.

The night is filled with delicious food (we made the spring rolls after a quick lesson from Yao), candlelight, Chang beer and the simplest kid games. They're corny, but somehow that doesn't matter. We have an incredible night, in the middle of the jungle in Northern Thailand.

I make sure the mosquito net is tucked under on all sides- We saw the hugest spider crawling on our bedroom wall a few hours earlier so I'm not taking any chances. I kiss Jeff goodnight and lay away for quite some time. Our group is really starting to come together.

Tomorrow is the "hard" day.
Four hours of uphill trekking in 100 degree heat.
I'm ready.


At 5:42 AM, Blogger Amy Boyd said...

Your words about finding freedom, quiet moment... will you send me directions how to get there? I've seem to have lost my way!! Your hike sounds awesome! The heat, the huge spider, what a trooper!!

At 1:11 PM, Blogger KrissySullivan said...

I'm crying! My Chick finally has some much needed freedom. I love you!Krissy

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Kasey said...

Could you send me the cliff notes? slow reader


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